Updated: Nov 21, 2021
As Oscar Wilde said, “It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.” Books can be great teachers, and the Memorial Day holiday offers a little extra time to slow down and get lost in a book (or your Kindle).
The best books spark personal insights about who we are, who we want to become, our place in the world and our connection to others. They invite us to reflect, imagine and stretch ourselves. I believe books can help build our emotional intelligence (EQ), which is your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships. EQ has been shown to have a bigger impact on success than even IQ.
If you’re looking for new books that help spark personal and/or professional growth, here is a shortlist of ideas to get started.
Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself, By Nedra Glover Tawwab
We hear a lot about the importance of setting boundaries to prevent burnout, deal with difficult people and improve our relationships. The benefits are clear, so why is it so hard for many of us to set and hold them? Therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab offers real-world strategies rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy to uncover and then unapologetically express our needs—and take back our power. She writes, “If you think about it, the root of self-care is setting boundaries: it’s saying no to something in order to say yes to your own emotional, physical, and mental well-being.”
The Call To Unite: Voices of Hope and Awakening, Edited By Tim Shriver and Tom Rosshirt
As the pandemic disrupted the world and kept loved ones and neighbors apart, Tim Shriver, Chair of Special Olympics, saw an opportunity for people to come together. He organized a 24-hour live-stream event, The Call To Unite, bringing together doctors, nurses, religious leaders, former presidents and artists—to share their poems, prayers and wisdom. The spirit of that event is captured in the eponymous book, with contributors who include Deepak Chopra, Angelique Kidjo, Eve Longoria, Elizabeth Gilbert, Bill Clinton, Eckhart Tolle, Daniel Dae Kim and the Dalai Lama.
Workplace rituals foster a sense of belonging and help employees connect with one another and their work. Author Erica Keswin states that in the age of technology, if left to our own devices, we’re not connecting. The book highlights scientific evidence that uncovers why workplace rituals drive productivity, and shares best practices from companies such as Chipotle, Starbucks and Allbirds. From rituals for onboarding to meetings, this book offers a guide for designing your own rituals roadmap.
You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience, By Tarana Burke, Edited By Brene Brown
Founder of the ‘me too.’ movement Tarana Burke and shame researcher Brene Brown partnered to bring this anthology of essays on Black shame and healing to life. Brene Brown has said, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weaknesses.” Amidst a year that shone light on racial injustice and sparked social unrest, Tarana Burke wanted to address that vulnerability is a word we all know, but it’s a different experience when you talk to Black people then when you talk to white people. Essays from thought leaders such as Imani Perry, Laverne Cox, and Jason Reynolds explore how you take the armor off in a country where you don’t feel physically or emotionally safe.
What Happened to You? Conversations On Trauma, Resilience And Healing By Oprah And Dr. Bruce D. Perry
The media mogul who built her career largely upon spotlighting the stories of others in a way that revealed our common humanity, is now revealing memories of her own childhood traumas and pathways to healing in her new book. A collaboration with trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry, it’s a call for a personal and cultural shift to change the question of “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” Using storytelling and principles of neuroscience, the book is a deep dive into trauma with a focus on understanding people, behavior and ourselves.
Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage, By Anne Lamott
Spiritual writer Ann Lamott weaves personal stories with reflections on everything from the challenges of pandemic life to climate change. The author of 16 best sellers, reflection and finding ways to heal are at the heart of her work. In a Washington Post interview on her new book she says, “A priest in L.A. told me recently that the trick in life is not to try harder, but to resist less. I think I’m doing that. At least in my writing.”
The Universe Is Your Search Engine, By Anita Scott
For those interested in the link between quantum physics and how our thoughts impact our reality, this book is packed with concrete exercises to help readers be more intentional in their thinking. Author Anita Scott unpacks how thought consciousness can improve your self-awareness, and help uncover mindful shifts to more effectively map out and achieve your goals.
Article originally published in Forbes.